“The Talk,” misleading in its singular form, is not a one and done conversation. In reality it’s a series of ongoing conversations that start with body/body safety talks when our children are small that move to what to expect when puberty rears its unpredictable head, to what parents typically think when they hear the words, “The Talk,” sex. So very many ongoing conversations. Now, some parents fly by the seat of their pants, tackling these conversations whenever and wherever they might arise. Others go to the books. Which brings me to the pre-puberty conversations.
Confession: Even with 30+ years into this whole female experience I wasn’t totally confident that I could adequately detail the changes that were looming in our daughter’s life. I wanted her to have all of the right information, as well as the proper lingo, without a bunch of fumbling on my part. To the books I went. I’m not gonna lie, I was like an awkward kid in that section of the book store, searching for just the right one. Because seriously, how did we get here already?! There were quite a few to choose from with books specifically for each gender. Finally I found one that seemed right for us.
The book: Ready, Set, GROW! A “What’s Happening to My Body?” Book for Younger Girls by Lynda Madaras, illustrations by Linda Davick. (Recommended for girls ages 8-11)
I was relieved to find a book that was essentially a logical next step in our conversation. It doesn’t cover EVERYTHING, just what she needs to know now as her body is starting to change and sets the stage for our next step, not so far down the road.
My approach…After getting the book home and giving it a read-through on my own, I introduced it to our daughter and told her we could read it together when she was ready, or she could read it on her own, and then we could talk about it. She immediately voted to read it together. The 10 relatively short chapters and Q&A sections didn’t take us long to navigate and I found that while she did have questions as we went along, they were more likely to come out the next day or so when she’d had a chance to think things through. I love how it’s really opened up a whole new level of dialogue for us.
She particularly liked the illustrations – they are a combination of informative and playful – and bits of humor sprinkled throughout. Even after having finished reading the book months ago, the conversations have continued and we refer back to the book often together.
My goals: I wanted this first step into the more traditional version of “The Talk” to be laidback, matter-of-fact, and open. I wanted for it not to be embarrassing, for it to just feel like any other conversation. For her to know that she can talk to me (and/or Dad) about anything and everything. Admittedly, I felt a little anxious over chapter 5’s “Bigger is Beautiful: The Weight Spurt,” but this delicate subject was covered just as matter-of-factly as everything else, filled with positive reassurances no matter where on the spectrum a girl’s body might fall. Overall this book was everything we needed it to be.
Whether your conversations start in the books or off-the-cuff (or maybe a combination), it doesn’t matter, what matters is that the conversations get started and keep going.